“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word,” Charles de Gaulle once noted. Although the principle isn’t quite the same in this case, it would seem that Phillip Hammond might be quite surprised at the disappointed reaction to his announcement that Class 4 NIC payments for the self-employed will rise by 2% up to 11% by 2019.
Why the consternation? Hammond’s announcement is a direct volte-face of a previous Tory manifesto commitment made by his predecessor as Chancellor, George Osborne. In fact, as Chuka Umunna noted on Twitter during the Budget announcement, the 2015 Conservative manifesto promised four times not to raise National Insurance.